(12pm 26 April 2012, Reception Room Sydney Town Hall)
Hello, everyone. Welcome to our Round Table discussion. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our city.
Important as they are to us as a global city, however, we recognise that our City economy is actually driven by the medium and smaller businesses.
You are at the heart of our city villages which in turn provide one of the main drawcards for Sydney as a liveable global city.
We are doing everything we can to reinforce those village hubs, from working to improve the physical environment through widening and paving footpaths to providing flower baskets and banner poles, creating the sort of streets and places where people are happy to spend time, shopping, meeting friends for a coffee, or simply exploring the neighbourhood. We also striving to make sure each of our City villages has the services and facilities it needs.
This not only makes for great neighbourhoods. It allows people to walk or cycle to local shops, restaurants and services, alleviating congestion in the city centre, strengthening local economies and promoting social cohesion.
We are currently reviewing our Village plans in line with our Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy and we are keen to have your input into that review.
We help business directly through a range of grants, sponsorship, events and programs, and we have five staff dedicated to helping small to medium business.
Many of you will have come along to our Let's Talk Business events. The feedback we've had suggests these have been very useful to you. Since the liquor legislation was changed, we've been instrumental in helping no less than 53 small bars get established through $200,000 in direct grants, as well as mentoring and business-planning advice.
These are generating $50 million in turnover each year, and employing over 200 staff.
We run the annual City of Sydney Business Awards involving customers and patrons as well as business-owners to recognise and promote outstanding businesses in our City.
And when an area is experiencing difficulties - as Oxford Street undoubtedly has been - our Economic Development staff are pro-active in looking for ways to support and improve business - through initiatives such as the Main Drag, Shop the Golden Mile held on Oxford Street in February, retailers reported that it brought record sales, and now through reviving City-owned properties.
This has now activated 13 offices spaces and three shop-fronts along Oxford Street which - according to just one shop - is attracting 100 customers through the door each day.
In Redfern Street, we've rented out a disused building to young artists and recently supported a three-day art fest.
Today is an opportunity to tell you in more detail about what we're doing and for you to tell us other ways in which we can help and support you.
So thank you for coming and enjoy the lunch.